India’s netizen millennials have proved their nationalist mettle. Confronted with the news that a high-profile tech CEO allegedly made racist comments against Indian consumers, they have chosen boycott and public shaming over the pleasures of clicking selfies and sharing the scintillating moments of their daily routines.
The righteous indignation over Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel’s statement, however, is an over-reaction for two reasons. The jury is still out over its veracity. More importantly, the outrage belies the immense power the Indian consumer now enjoys in the tech market. According to a lawsuit by a former employee against Snapchat, in 2015 Spiegel allegedly said the social media app was “only for rich people” and not those from countries like “India and Spain”.
Soon after the statement leaked last week, the Indian public started an online campaign against the app. #BoycottSnapchat and #UninstallSnapchat have been trending, and the app’s rating has been downgraded on Apple’s App Store and Google Play thanks to adverse reviews by indignant Indians. What is more troubling than the fact that the campaign is based on unverified information and allegations is its abusive nature. Spiegel and his company have been called several impolite epithets.
Snapchat has insisted that the statement attributed to Spiegel is false and put out by “a disgruntled employee fired for poor performance”. Whatever the truth may be, the Indian market is an important one for tech products. Many Indian consumers, however, are still in victim mode. Rather than react to unverified statements with unpalatable language, they ought to continue to click their selfies and share their lives. If Snapchat does not want their custom, there are many other options. Meanwhile, in Spain, Spiegel’s statement has barely made headlines.